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Temporal range: Cretaceous[source?]- Recent
Texas Coral Snake
Micrurus tener
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Sauropsida
Subclass: Diapsida
Infraclass: Lepidosauromorpha
Superorder: Lepidosauria
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Linnaeus, 1758
Infraorders and Families

A snake is a member of about 19 reptile families (suborder Serpentes, order Squamata) that has no limbs, voice, ears, or eyelids. They also have a long, slender body.[2]

About 2,900 snake species are known to exist, and most of them live in the tropics. Very few snake species are able to live beyond the Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn, and only one species, common viper (Vipera berus) lives beyond the Arctic Circle. Their skin is covered with scales.[2] They can see well, and they can taste the air with their tongues by flicking them in and out. Though they do not have a voice, they hiss instead. Most live on the ground, others live in the water, and some live under the soil. Snakes do not have legs. Like all reptiles, snakes need the heat of the sun to control their body temperature. That's why most snakes are in the warm, humid tropical regions of the world.[3]

Venom[change | edit source]

Snakes have lots of colors on their scales. Snakes that have dull coloured skin use it for camouflage. Those that have brightly coloured skin are usually venomous. They use their bright colors to warn predators to stay off. Some non-venomous snakes pretend to be venomous by having the same patterns and bright colors as venomous snakes to fool predators. [4]

Shedding[change | edit source]

Snakes need to shed their skin regularly while they grow. This is called moulting. Snakes shed their skin by rubbing their head against something rough and hard, like a piece of wood or a rock. This causes the skin, which is already stretched, to split open. The snake keeps on rubbing its skin on various rough objects until the skin peels off from its head. This lets it crawl out, turning the skin inside out.[4]

Feeding[change | edit source]

All snakes eat other animals,some snakes are venomous. They use the poison in their teeth to help them bite and capture an animal at once. Constrictors are not venomous, so they simply strangle their prey. They move by pushing and pulling themselves with the muscles on the bottom of their bodies, and are very fast. They swallow their food whole, sometimes by dislocating their jaws. Once the snake's prey is in its body, its internal muscles crush it so the animal can be digested. They are cold-blooded carnivores and some eat large prey. Some feed on rodents such as mice, others may feed on birds, fish, eggs, lizards, or even other snakes. They capture their prey in many ways.

Even though snakes seem to eat a lot, they can go without eating for several days or longer.[5] People who own pet snakes feed them as infrequently as once per month. Some snakes can go as long as six months without a good meal.

References[change | edit source]